June 5, 2023

There have been, of course, many, many film, book, and stage adaptations of “Peter Pan” since its inception, including a 1991 version made by Steven Spielberg, two adaptations in 2003 from P.J. Hogan and Daimon Dietz, a famed 2015 bomb from Joe Wright called “Pan,” and Behn Zeitlin’s “Wendy.” As such, one might believe to know everything there is to know about Tinkerbell. A small Neverland fairy, Tinkerbell could shed a seemingly infinite supply of magical fairy dust from her wings. When a person is sprinkled with dust, their happy thoughts will allow them to fly. In some of the play’s more famous musical adaptations (Leonard Bernstein made one in 1950, and Jerome Robbins made a more famous rendition in 1954), Tinkerbell was depicted by a small spotlight, giving the impression that Tinkerbell glowed from within her own body, sort of like a deep-water sea creature

Perhaps wanting to avoid comparisons to anglerfish, Lowery made the aesthetic decision to keep Tinkerbell opaque for his new film. In live-action, he felt, a glowing fairy wouldn’t possess the realistic tone he sought. He felt that audiences would become preoccupied with Tinkerbell’s biological makeup. He said: 

“We all imagine Tinkerbell glowing, but then you’re like, ‘Where’s the light actually coming from? Do her wings light up?’ That’s the difference between animation and what looks right in live-action.” 

In the film’s preview, one can see a glow coming from Tinkerbell’s magical fairy dust, but none coming from the fairy herself. While Lowery is clearly not aiming for strict, earthy realism in his light fantasy film for children, he does understand the need to keep real gravity involved when shooting actual actors. While it stands counter to most of the known Tinkerbell depictions, Lowery’s decision to make a non-glowing fairy makes creative sense.

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